The expression, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” is the foundation upon which SeeChange Health’s approach to health insurance is built. As one of the most recent additions to WKKF’s Mission Driven Investments (MDI) portfolio, SeeChange Health is proving every day that this age-old adage still rings true.
SeeChange Health is different from most insurance companies. Focused on health prevention, rather than treatment, the California-based company has launched a disruptive approach into what is perhaps the most debated and discussed industry in the country – health care. Its uniqueness lies in offering financial rewards to members when they take specific preventative health actions, such as diabetes screenings and blood pressure checks to detect chronic health conditions early.
Early detection translates to lives and money saved across the health care system when acute conditions are discovered or prevented entirely. Prevention doesn’t just equal better health. It also brings financial benefits to members, like reduced out-of-pocket expenses or contributions to a health incentive account, as well as reduced health care costs for employers. Incentivized to take proactive health screenings, SeeChange Health’s clients have been able to detect life-threatening cancers, pre-diabetic conditions and other treatable and preventable diseases.
By engaging members in proactively managing their own health, SeeChange Health has documented a decrease in some risk factors that lead to chronic conditions. Last year, nearly 30 percent of the company’s members were made aware of, and then were able to better manage, their serious health problems, including pre-diabetes/diabetes, heart disease and asthma.
With outcomes like these, SeeChange Health could potentially change the way health care companies operate across the country.
“Health care coverage today too often focuses on individuals after they’re sick,” said Martin Watson, CEO of SeeChange Health. “Our emphasis is on early detection of serious conditions through innovative tools and programs. This mission is a natural fit for the Kellogg Foundation, an organization that has long fostered creativity in health care with an emphasis on prevention.”
Last year, Watson was honored by Goldman Sachs as one of the Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs of 2013, and the company was recognized by Fast Company as one of the 50 Most Innovative Companies in the World with an increase in sales of 230 percent in 2013 alone. SeeChange Health has become the fastest growing full-service health insurance company for small to mid-sized employers in California and Colorado by targeting businesses that were not yet offering health benefits, but looking for ways to improve the health and well-being of their employees.
The company just launched another industry innovation with the SeeChange Health Challenge, which will “sweeten the pot” to take change of one’s own health even further. Because smoking and obesity are the two primary risk factors for several chronic conditions and those that lead to early deaths, the company is going to reward four of its clients with cash prizes -- $10,000 for three members and $20,000 for one member – just for taking steps to improve their health. Members who complete all of their Preventive Health Actions, and then maintain or achieve a normal BMI or lose 25lbs and become or remain tobacco-free will be eligible for these prizes.
As the most recent investee in the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Mission Driven Investments portfolio, SeeChange Health is a prime example of what the MDI program was designed to do – maximize advancements toward its mission by identifying mission-related for-profit entities whose work launches new solutions, new technology or new partnerships to support the education, health and economic security of children and families.
WKKF’s investment has helped accelerate the company’s efforts to develop and launch new incentive-based products that actively engage individuals in managing their own health, including exploring how the company can support preventive health measures and healthier behavior for children.
“We are excited about the investment in SeeChange Health and about being a partner to improve the health of families, especially those who face barriers based on race or income. The company’s focus on prevention in the midst of rising health care costs and significant changes in our health care system aligns well with the foundation’s work to ensure that families have access to quality care and to the community factors that improve health,” said Dr. Gail Christopher, vice president for program strategy at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
In May, SeeChange Health will connect with social fitness site Shape Up to help further drive good health outcomes through social support, games and rewards. As part of the family strategy, this new tool is intended to encourage family fitness, providing even more benefits to support children and families.